Nightlife

Location
Madison, WI
Undergrads
28,167
Tuition (in-state)
$26,628 ($10,378)
Admission Difficulty
Average
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Reviews

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4 College Freshman

Nightlife: The parties at Madison are large and active. The majority of parties happen after home football games and people mostly celebrate after they've focused on their academics.

College Freshman

Nightlife: I don't drink or party, so I don't really know. All of the "big" events are pretty unsafe though.

1 person found this useful Report
4 College Sophomore

Nightlife: There are always nightlife options. There are lots of parties on weekends, and the bar scene is huge in Madison

4 people found this useful Report
5 College Freshman

Nightlife: I love Madison. There's things to do whether you want to drink or not, and it's all a blast.

2 people found this useful Report
5 College Freshman

Nightlife: There's always something going on, no matter what night it is.

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Rankings View more rankings . . .

  • 23rd
    Biggest Party Schools
  • 81st
    Best Drink Prices
  • 1350th
    Tamest Party Scenes

Student Author OverviewWhat's This?

Marie Puissant
Hometown
Green Bay, Wis.
Major
Marketing and English
View all previous student authors

For weekend activities, it's really about what students are in the mood for and what's accessible. Due to the closeness of State Street and its insane amount of bars, students do often find themselves at these locations. For those unfamiliar with the bar scene, students suggest popular places like the KK. If bars aren't your thing, then house parties are another popular option. However, there are a lot of things to do that don't include alcohol and heavy crowds. Students find just as much entertainment in Madison's comedy clubs, coffee shops, or the live band performances.

UW definitely has a reputation for being a party school, and the majority of students fulfill this image. Going to the bars on State Street or to house parties are by far the most popular options when it comes to Madison's nightlife. Those wanting something else, though, should not despair. Also on State Street are a few performing art centers where students can take in a play or musical. Madison's Civic Center attracts touring acts like Rent, Chicago, and The Nutcracker Ballet. Here students can also take in touring musicians like John Mayer and Pete Yorn. There are also UW sponsored events like samba lessons, yoga instruction, and photography classes to partake in. In the end it's simply matter of deciding how you want to spend your precious weekend time.

Facts & Statistics

Primary Areas with Nightlife
  • Capital Square
  • Memorial Union
  • State Street
  • Union Terrace
Student Favorites
  • Bar hopping
  • Going out to eat
  • Greek parties
  • House parties
  • Live shows
  • Union events
Other Places to Check Out
  • The Barrymore Theater
  • The Church Key
  • Genna's Lounge
  • Kimia Lounge
  • Opus Lounge
  • The Orpheum Theater
  • The Paradise
  • The Plaza Tavern
  • Porta Bella Wine Cellar
  • The State Bar & Grill
Favorite Drinking Games
  • Beer pong
  • Card games (A$$hole)
  • Flip Cup
  • Power Hour
  • Quarters
Useful Resources for Nightlife
The Isthmus: This Madison-based newspaper lists all the social events for the upcoming weekend. You can find information on new movies, touring acts, and coffeehouse shows.
Closing Time
2 a.m.
Cheapest Place to Get a Drink
The Kollege Klub State Street Brats
Organization Parties
Many of the student organizations at UW will house parties for their members, or to gain more members. These are usually held at the Union or somebody’s apartment. Other organizations like the Ten Percent Society simply sponsor parties where anyone and everyone is welcomed to attend.
Did You Know?
Campus provides convenient and safe ways of transportation at night. SAFERide gives students 4 free nighttime cab rides a month. Also, the 80 and 81 buses run all night as SAFERide buses. SAFEWalk is a student-employed organization that will walk with students to their destinations until 1 a.m. Check out www2.fpm.wisc.edu/trans/safeservices.asp for more info.

Club ListingsWhat's This?

The Majestic

The Majestic is one of Madison's few nightclubs; it is close to Capital Square, and many go there for the lush atmosphere and pricey drinks. The music is incredible, and the patrons are usually upperclassmen.

115 King St.

(608) 251-2582

Club Inferno

Club Inferno features many live acts, as well as DJs who spin all sorts of music, from house and jungle, to hip-hop and goth.

1718 Commercial Ave.

(608) 245-9583

www.clubinferno.com

Bar ListingsWhat's This?

Nitty Gritty Restaurant and Bar

This place is essential for birthdays. Customers on their special day receive free drinks, a nitty gritty mug, and obnoxious waiters. If it's your 21st though, be prepared for excessive treatment and attention. Students must go for at least one birthday.

223 N Frances St.

(608) 251-2521

The Kollege Klub

Known as "the KK," this large bar is a magnet for frat boys, freshmen, and athletes. Drinks aren't all that expensive, and the crowd is pretty decent. Students say you have to go there at least once to truly complete the UW undergrad experience.

529 N Lake St.

(608) 257-3611

State Street Brats

Founded in 1932, State Street Brats is the original creator of the red (smoked) brat. The second floor has stadium seating and two 10 foot screens for watching the game on weekends.

603 State St.

(608) 255-5544

www.statestreetbrats.com

Paul's Club

This is one of State Street's nicer bars. Inside, there is comfortable seating, attractive lighting, jukeboxes, and a large fake tree. There can sometimes be a line, but for this place it is worth it.

212 State St.

(608) 257-5250

Frida Mexican Grill

Based on the works of revolutionary Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, this bar and restaurant by the capitol is a huge draw for students and the Madison community. Known for their margaritas, Fridas serves great Mexican food at reasonable prices.

117 State St.

(608) 256-4000

Blue Velvet Lounge

Voted for "best cocktails" by UW's student paper, this lounge creates a trendy atmosphere with cushy seats and low lighting. Friday and Saturday nights are the busiest for this up-scale lounge. Drop in and try their famous cosmopolitan and strawberry champagne cocktail.

430 W Gilman St.

(608) 250-9900

Angelic Brewing Company

Located minutes from State Street, this heaven-themed restaurant is perfect for an evening with friends or visiting family. Inside there is a bar, jukebox, pool tables, and dart boards.

322 W Johnson St.

(608) 257-2707

www.angelicbrewing.com

Bull Feathers

Bull Feathers is suitable for any night and any occasion. Many seek refuge after a long day or just to catch up with friends. The drinks are reasonable and there's a welcoming crowd. If you're heading here on a weekend, be prepared for a long wait.

303 N Henry St.

(608) 257-6444

Brothers

Brothers is a typical college bar with lots of fashionably-clad students grinding to the latest hits. If that's your sort of scene, then you should feel right at home.

704 University Ave.

(608) 251-9550

What to Do if You're Not 21What's This?

If you aren't of age, or simply don't want to go to the bars, check out "Today at the Union." This is a listing of all the day's events at both unions, and you are sure to find a show or free event occurring. One of the more popular union events is "Free Art Nights." On the weekends students have complete access to pottery wheels, loose clay, and collage materials. There is no fee for this event, and students can even get their pottery pieces glazed and fired. Open mic nights are also frequent in Madison, and the local coffee houses or lounges will usually host them. Also add- Residential halls hold events for students throughout the week and on weekends. Movie nights, dances, speakers, and pizza parties are all fun ways to meet other students and relax with friends.

Student Polls

Where can you find the best parties?    Based on 17 responses

  • 30% Langdon
  • 27% Mifflin
  • 12% Equinox
  • 12% Good parties can be found anywhere
  • 6% Palisades
  • 6% West Washington
  • 3% Nowhere
  • 3% Orchard for freshman

Rate the off-campus bar and club scene on the following topics    Based on 98 responses

Very poor
Excellent
  • Convenience to get to
  • Cover charges
  • Distance from campus
  • Drink prices
  • Fun
  • Variety/number of options

What's the best way to get to the popular nightlife spots?    Based on 95 responses

  • 0% There are no good options.
  • 6% Use a designated driver.
  • 5% School-provided shuttles/buses.
  • 11% Public transportation.
  • 1% Taxis.
  • 77% Walk.

What is the party scene like on campus?    Based on 97 responses

  • 5% Parties? What parties?
  • 2% Good parties are few and far between.
  • 8% Some decent frat/house parties, weekends only.
  • 61% Lots of options Wednesday-Saturday.
  • 24% Tons of raging parties almost any night of the week.

What is the biggest party event of the year?    Based on 19 responses

  • 37% FreakFest
  • 26% Mifflin
  • 16% FINAL FOUR
  • 16% Every sporting event-especially football
  • 5% Nothing....
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